Tag: Kurt Vile

New Video: Renowned Australian Singer/Songwriter and Guitarist Courtney Barnett Releases Psychedelic Visuals for Expansive Album Single “City Looks Pretty”

With the release of her first two, critically applauded EPs, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose, the Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett quickly received attention from the North American, British and Australian press witty and rambling, conversational lyrics delivered in an ironic deadpan paired with big, power chord-based indie rock. And although to the casual observer, it may have seemed like overnight success, it actually wasn’t. In fact, Barnett has long been considered one of Melbourne’s best guitarists as once played in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and had  guest spot on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.

2015’s full-length effort Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit continued a run of critically applauded releases, and the album’s lead single “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” was promoted with a unique promotional campaign that included scores of giant billboards, posters and murals spontaneously posted around the world — and all of them declared the same unattributed statement in the same exact font. As for the song, it found Barnett and her backing band pairing thundering drumming, dense layers of swirling guitar chords and a scorching guitar solo and Barnett’s bemused and ironic deadpan delivery with a rousingly anthemic, arena rock-like hook. “Elevator Operator,” which I also wrote about on this site, was a stomping and shuffling T. Rex-like song that featured twisting and turning organ chords, handclap-led percussion, and a mischievous yet anthemic hook that described incredibly neurotic people, who are beaten down by boring and soulless day jobs, including one character, who escapes to peer over a rooftop for a brief moment of clarity while dreaming he was playing Sim City.  (If you’ve worked at a boring and soul crushing day job, that song may well be your anthem during the workweek.)

Last year, saw the release of Lotta Sea Lice, a critically applauded and commercially successful collaborative album with renowned guitarist and vocalist Kurt Vile; in fact, the album landed at #5 on the Australian charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the American charts. Building upon an incredible run of critical and commercial success, Barnett’s third full-length album Tell Me How You Really Feel is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, Marathon Artists, and Barnett’s own label Milk! Records — and the album’s third and latest single “City Looks Pretty” finds Barnett eschewing traditional song structures in order to focus on a motorik-like groove, razor sharp hooks and an expansive psych rock-like vibe that’s roomy enough for what may be some of Barnett’s most inspired and bluesy guitar work she’s recorded to date. The song lyrically is an exploration of friendship, place and home centered around the irony of friends treating you like a stranger and strangers treating you like their best friend. 

The recently released video by Courtney Barnett features some appropriately psychedelic imagery shot on what looks like digital cameras and an old Super 8, and in some way it brings to mind 120 Minutes-era MTV. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen Return with a Mournful Meditation on Time, Friendship, and the Tuareg Way of Life in Visuals for Album Single “Nannuflay”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned Algerian Tuareg pioneers of the Desert Blues, Tinariwen, and as you may recall the act can trace their origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, guitarist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The group of rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of Moroccan groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements. Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. Interestingly, as the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the lineup of Tinariwen was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

The members of the band built a makeshift studio and then vowed to record and distribute music for free for anyone who supplied them a blank cassette tape. And within a short period of time, their cassettes were a highly sought-after item, and were traded throughout Saharan Africa.

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. By 1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped the members of Tinariwen receive a growing international profile, which included their a live set at  Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Since their formation, the collective has gone through a series of lineup changes, incorporating a younger generation of Tuareg musicians, who haven’t fought during the military conflicts of the elders, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has received international acclaim, particularly over the past decade, as they’ve regularly toured across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing sets at some of the world’s biggest music festivals — including Glastonbury, Coachella, Roskilde, Les Vieilles Charrues, WOMAD, FMM Sines,  Printemps de Bourges and others, as well as some of the world’s best known music venues, as they continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization. Along with that, a bloody and contentious series of religious and ethnic wars have splintered several nations across the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s existence.  Unsurprisingly, Tinariwen’s latest album Elwan (which translates into English as The Elephants) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people, the band’s life of forced exile, and their longing for their ancestral homeland.

Elwan’s latest single “Nannuflay” is an atmospheric and shuffling blues centered around a hypnotic groove and a gorgeous, looping guitar line that features the renowned pioneers of the Desert Blues collaborating with guitar god Kurt Vile and the imitable, grunge rock pioneer Mark Lanegan, that manages to be a powerful connection between Saharan Africa and the West, and a mournful longing for a past that the song’s narrator knows he cannot have back; but along with that, there’s a tacit acknowledgement that time is passing by — sometimes faster than anyone wants to admit.

Directed by Axel Digoix, the animated video for “Nannuflay” follows an older Tuareg man, who returns to the camp where he grew up for a party. The man remembers both the joys and torments of the nomadic life, he once lived with a friend, who has since died, including childhood memories of life in the sand dunes, the adventures they had as teenagers, the fights, dramas and responsibilities of their adult lives. Throughout the video, the two men’s friendship details the lives of the Tauregs and the duty and obligation they feel towards each other and to passing along as much of the old traditions as humanly possible.

New Video: Imarhan Releases Hallucinogenic Visuals for the Funky Disco Groove-based single “Ehad Wa Dagh”

Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and are among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians that haven’t fought in the armed conflicts that have devastated Saharan Africa over the past 3 or 4 decades. Unsurprisingly, the members of Imarhan have been mentored by members of the internationally renowned Tuareg collective Tinariwen, while developing their own reputation across both the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and rhythms of their elders with the contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a wide variety of music from across the globe.
 
With the 2016 release of the Algerian quintet’s critically applauded, self-titled debut album, they quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing internationally recognized profile which found them opening for a number internationally renowned touring acts including Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. Imarhan’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Temet officially drops today and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections,” — and interestingly enough, the album reportedly is meant as an urgent wake up call to the listener, reminding them (and us, of course) that we are all deeply connected and without unity and understanding, we will never solve the world’s most urgent and pressing problems — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane said in press notes some time ago, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.”
 
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that the album’s first single “Azzaman” was a meditative, hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s desert blues sound that nods at psych rock — while thematically the song focuses on the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage and traditions by each successive generation, and the importance of leaving the right legacy. But along with that, the song makes a point of connecting different cultures of mixing the old and the new in a sensible way. Temet‘s second single “Tamudre” consists of a hypnotic and downright propulsive groove, punctuated with layers of percussion (both drumming and handclaps), call and response vocals and some impressive guitar work. Naturally, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Tinariwen’s “Sustanaqqam” and “Adounia Ti Chidjret” but with a loose, bluesy vibe.
 
Temet’s latest single “Ehad Wa Dagh” features a stomping, dance floor-friendly, trance inducing, disco-like groove paired with some incredibly dexterous guitar pyrotechnics, making the song a funky and bold modernization of the desert blues that finds the band retaining familiar elements — the call and response vocals and the propulsive rhythms.
 
Directed by Visions Particulières, the recently released neon colored video focuses on Tamanrasset’s nightlife with members of the band arriving at a local nightclub to play a show — throughout it’s an explosion of colors, lights, and superimposed footage of the band members playing over an overhead of Tamanrasset. It’s a fitting psychedelic stomp.

Live Footage: Imarhan Perform Album Single “Tamudre” in Upcoming Documentary on Taureg Life

Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and are among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians, who have yet to fight in the conflicts that have devastated Saharan Africa over the past 3 or 4 decades. Interestingly, the band has been mentored by members of internationally renowned Tuareg collective Tinariwen, while developing a reputation across the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and rhythms of their elders with the much more contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a wide variety of music from across the globe. 

With the 2016 release of the Algerian quintet’s critically applauded, self-titled debut album, they quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing internationally recognized profile that found them opening for a number internationally renowned touring acts including Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. Building upon a growing profile, Imarhan’s forthcoming and highly-anticipated sophomore album Temet is slated for a February 23, 2018 release through City Slang Records — and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections,” which shouldn’t be surprising as the album reportedly is an urgent wake up call to the listener, meant to remind them that we are all deeply connected and without unity and understanding, that we will never be able to solve our world’s most urgent and pressing connections — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane said in press notes some time ago, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that the album’s first single “Azzaman” was a meditative, hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s desert blues sound that nods at psych rock — while thematically the song focuses on the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage and traditions by each successive generation, and the importance of leaving the right legacy. But along with that, the song makes a point of connecting different cultures of mixing the old and the new in a sensible way. Temet’s second single “Tamudre” consists of a hypnotic and downright propulsive groove, punctuated with layers of percussion (both drumming and handclaps), call and response vocals and some impressive guitar work. Naturally, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Tinariwen’s “Sustanaqqam” and “Adounia Ti Chidjret” but with a loose, bluesy vibe. 

As for the recently released live footage, the Parisian, independent filmmaker Vincent Moon set out of Algeria earlier this year, equipped only with a camera. ‘I never ever film with an object in mind,” Moon explains in press notes. “It’s more about letting it go and let[ting] the object materialize by itself. Interestingly, in this case, wound up being the members of Imarhan, who at the time, were in the middle of working on the material, which would comprise Temet. Moon followed the band for two weeks, documenting hours of music, conversations and pictures in Tamanrasset and within the neighboring mountain ranges, specially the Assekrem (Tamashak for “World’s End”) within the larger Hoggar Mountains in Southern Algeria. The end result is an hour-long documentary film Children of Tam, which is a portrait of the band and of the Tuareg people, capturing these proud people in their daily lives — and interesting enough, the documentary features live footage of the band performing album single “Tamudre” in their hometown. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Tuareg Band Imarhan Release Meditative Sounds and Visuals on Modern Taureg Life in “Azzaman”

Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and while being among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians, who haven’t fought in the various conflicts that have devastated the region; however, since their formation, the band, which has been mentored by internationally renowned Tuareg act Tinariwen, has developed a reputation across the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and traditional rhythms of their elders with contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a variety of music from around the globe. (Interestingly, the connection to Tinariwen is not just a generational one of acclaimed elders wanting to pass their wisdom on to the young, new breed; it’s actually familial, as Tinariwen’s Eyadou Ag Leche is Ben Abderahmane’s cousin.)
 
In fact, with the release of their 2016, critically applauded, self-titled debut album, the band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing profile that found them opening for the likes of Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. And building upon that growing profile, the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort Temek, derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections” and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album, which was recorded earlier this year in Paris reportedly is a urgent wake up call to the listener, reminding them that we are all connected and that without unity, we will never be able to solve our world’s most pressing problems — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane says in press notes, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.” But along with that message, the album finds the band pushing their sound to include elements of funk, disco and rock; in fact, the album’s first single “Azzaman” is a mediative and hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s famed desert blues sound, as the song finds the band hinting at psych rock, thanks to some impressively blazing guitar work.
 
Directed by Visions Particulières and filmed in Algiers, Algeria, the recently released video for “Azzaman” offers an equally meditative glance at Tuareg life, pointing out that while some things are understandably different culturally and linguistically, we share much more similarities than we expect. After all, people struggling to get by daily with their dignity intact is universal; and in fact, if you were watching the video in mute, it wouldn’t be until you saw the street scenes that you’d notice anything wildly different. As the band explains, the video’s concept “is about the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage by each generation. It’s about the importance of leaving the right legacy. It’s also about connecting the cultures, the mixing of the old with the new. The video was shot in Algiers to reflect the meaning behind the song, it’s a big cosmopolitan city, an urban environment which culturally offers a lot yet it’s still a place in which we can keep on preserving some Tuareg ways of life.”
 
 
 

Perhaps best known as the drummer of West Grove, PA-based rock Dr. Dog, a member of the Adrian Belew (of King Crimson fame)’s backing band and a co-leader of the Philadelphia, PA-based band Lithuania, Eric Slick’s soon-to-be released solo debut Palisades finds Slick stepping out from behind the drum kit and being a full-time frontman of a backing band featuring Andy Molholt of Speedy Ortiz and Laser Background, Ricardo Lagomasino of Lithuania and Capillary Action and Alexandra Spalding of Avers.

As the story goes, in 2014 Slick decided to leave his native Philadelphia for the first time and relocated to Asheville, NC where he practiced meditation and Jungian dream therapy as a form of reinvention and to write his own original material, which would later be inspired by these periods of intense mediation. Interestingly, Slick found some inspiration in the works of renowned writer/actor Spalding Gray — especially his 1992 book Impossible Vacation, which details the impossibility of searching for and finding Zen. “I know it’s the funny trope: indie rock dude goes to the woods and makes an outsider record,” Slick says in press notes. “But it was a time of deep introspection and a fruitful period of my life. I wrote someone around 50 songs in 2014.” And as a result, the material on the album isn’t a typical indie rock, rock or pop album that focus on heartbreak or love; rather, it thematically focuses on mediation, death, self-help, dream therapy, tarot and mysticism. But at points, the material focuses on both personal events of his life and the random, unexpected thoughts that come up while mediating — in particular, the album title track “Palisades” is about New York’s Palisades Parkway; however, Slick doesn’t really know why or how it came about.

At the end of 2014, Slick returned to Philadelphia to record Palisades at Mt. Eerie’s Phil Elverun’s The Unknown Studio in Anacortes, WA — but the songs were stored away for a period time before Slick finished them with the assistance of Neighbors‘ Jose Diaz Rohena, who produced it, along with Ape School and Kurt Vile‘s Michael Johnson, Lithuania’s Dom Angelella and Ricardo Lagomarsino and Ryan Neitznick and Molly Burch‘s Dailey Toliver.

Palisades‘ latest single “You Became The Light” is a jangling and discordant track featuring enormous, buzzing power chords, thundering and propulsive drumming, a dreamy melody and an anthemic hook — and interestingly enough, the song sounds as though it draws from 90s grunge and alt rock while possessing a free-flowing improvised feel.
Slick plans to take his solo act on the road in 2017, and it includes a May 20, 2017 stop at Sunnyvale. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates
Apr 19 – Richmond, VA – The Broadberry*
Apr 20 – Raleigh, NC – Kings*
Apr 23 – Orlando, FL – The Social*
Apr 25 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl*
Apr 26 – Birmingham, AL – Syndicate Lounge*
Apr 27 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa*
Apr 28 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall*
Apr 30 – Austin, TX – Empire Control Room*
May 01 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues*
May 02 – Little Rock, AZ – Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack*
May 03 – Nashville, TN – The High Watt*
May 20 – Brooklyn, NY – Sunnyvale

* – w/ Sinkane

 

Perhaps best known as the haunting and ethereal voice of Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval has had an equally lengthy solo career, collaborating with a number of artists including Massive Attack and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Coisog in her long-running post Mazzy Star project, Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions. Interestingly, Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions is a major departure in terms of theme, instrumentation and mood. Whereas Mazzy Star’s sound was shimmering and moodily atmospheric and featured sparse arrangements of guitar and drums, The Warm Inventions’ sound at times is reminiscent of twangy 70s AM radio and soul as you’ll hear on “Let Me Get There,” the first single off the project’s forthcoming third, full-length effort Until the Hunter, slated for a November 4, 2016 release.

Featuring a guest spot from acclaimed and prolific singer/songwriter Kurt Vile, the song consists of the sort of tender, slow-burning, Sunday morning soulful and hypnotic groove that you can two-step to with a lover, paired with soaring and trembling organ keys and Sandoval and Vile’s call and response vocals evoking both the warm, comfortable and playful familiarity of a long-term couple as they’re about to make love or as they’re in the middle of making love — and that sense of curiosity and discovery those first few times you’ve begun to see a lover naked. Interestingly, the song also manages to suggest that when it’s right, a relationship should feel much like musicians who automatically have a sense of simpatico and can intuitively follow wherever the other leads.